5 reasons to walk Ireland's Wicklow Way: Traveller Tale

I, who had never been to Ireland before, was travelling with my partner, Josh, who had been to certain areas of Ireland with friends in the past. We enjoyed our time in Dublin very much, but our experience hiking in Wicklow County in September is a memory we will hold very dear. 

Here are some reasons to walk the Wicklow Way.

1. Photos don’t do it justice 

Before going to Ireland, I often thought people exaggerated how green Ireland truly is. Within minutes, I began to understand that photos barely do the beautiful landscapes any justice. 

Walking the Wicklow Way, every day was filled with rolling hills of various shades of green with other contrasting colours. We walked the trail in September, so some of the local flora had reached the end of their cycle, while the majority maintained their vibrant greens, creating a stunning contrast along the Irish countryside. 

The forested areas, such as Drumgoff, felt magical as small streams and waterfalls seemingly appeared out of nowhere! 

Glendalough Valley view from the Spinc Trail |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i> Streams and waterfall along the Wicklow Way |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i> Glendalough Valley view from the beach  |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

The grandiosity of the glacial valley of Glendalough is difficult to describe as it left me in awe. The photos that I have taken only show a glimpse of how grand the scenery was laid before me. 

2. Sheep and other companions 

We love animals! Who doesn’t? While admiring the many sheep and cows grazing and roaming lazily along the mountainsides, you did not need to worry about wolves or bears like you do in Canada. This brought us some peace of mind as we did not need to be on alert 24/7. 

The green vastness in Moyne |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

On some rare occasions, we saw some animals we do not see in Canada; sika deer and red squirrels (ours are not as red)! They were so quick and vanished in an instant. 

For a country full of lush vegetation, I did expect to see more local wildlife, however, we were still ecstatic to see the occasional squirrel. 

Near the stream leading to Poulanass Waterfall, we had the chance to witness some black Irish Stoats swimming from shore to shore. It was adorable and left us feeling refreshed for the remainder of our walk. 

3. A hearty meal and a pint of beer after a day’s hike 

While these may not be our main highlights of the Wicklow Way, the food was still one of the things we really looked forward to after a long day of hiking. 

Every night, we would head out to town, with the exception of Glenmalure where the pub was a part of the accommodation, and find a local pub or restaurant to eat a delicious hearty meal and enjoy a pint of beer (often Guinness, of course). 

Some dishes that stood out to us were the lamb dishes, such as the traditional stew and a rump of lamb, our occasional fish and chips, seafood chowder and more. There were also some delicious fish appetisers and chocolatey desserts. 

The rump of lamb for the restaurant in Laragh |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

Josh’s most memorable dish was the rump of lamb he had at the restaurant in Laragh. This was by far his favourite and he would love the opportunity to eat it again someday. Josh had also tried some of the local Glendalough whiskey at the restaurant in Laragh, the town neighbouring the monastic city of Glendalough. 

Ruins in the Monastic Village in Glendalough |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

At the end of each hiking day, the foods we ate at the local restaurants would heal our weary souls and give us time for our (other) weary soles to rest. 

4. The warmth and hospitality 

We experienced Irish hospitality everywhere we went. The locals were always willing to give us a hand or give us more information about the area and how things worked. It was really enjoyable. On the first day of our tour (The Wicklow Way - 7 Days), we were picked up and brought to our hotel. 

The driver gave us a lot of valuable information about the area and some recommended walks in Tinahely, which we decided to check out once we had settled into our accommodation. We struggled to find the start of the Railway Trail and asked a local. She was really helpful and even gave us more recommendations on particular sites to check out depending on the route we took. We had similar experiences in our accommodations. Everyone was willing to help and share about the local culture. 

The last bit of ascent on the Dublin Mountain |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i> Large clovers in Enniskerry  |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i> Glimpse of the contrasting colours and flowers on the Wicklow Way |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

We learned about how prevalent the film industry is in Enniskerry and the Wicklow area and discovered that many popular films and shows are filmed there, like; The Vikings, PS: I love you, and Cocaine Bear! 

On the last night of our tour, we were fortunate to be in a pub on a night when Ireland was playing in the Rugby World Cup. We were happy to share the evening with the locals cheering for Ireland’s victory against South Africa. 

5. The sense of accomplishment 

I had done some research on the trail before heading to the Wicklow Way and made sure to read a few blogs to know more about other people’s experiences. I felt ready for the rain, the wind, the cold air (our toques and gloves came in handy more than once and we recommend bringing some along) and the challenge! We even brought umbrellas with us and we were very happy to have them, especially on some of the rainier days. 

Beginning the walk on Ireland's Wicklow Way from Tinahely |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

Of course, even with all this preparation, there’s nothing quite like experiencing it directly. This trip is graded as moderate and gave me the right level of challenge. We usually walked for about 7 hours a day, including our breaks to eat and change our layers, through rolling hills and steep ascents. We also experienced rain, which also meant muddy trails and a few sections where water covered the trail past the sole of our boots. 

The path on Djouce Mountain was exposed and windy. On average, be prepared to walk about 20-30 kilometres a day, depending on the starting point and which accommodations you are staying at. 

Hiking on Djouce Mountain |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

Arriving at the accommodation at the end of each day felt very rewarding. Some good food and good rest helped us prepare for the next hiking day! 

I will never forget the moment we arrived at the end of the trail at Marlay Park. I couldn’t believe I had actually done it! 

Arrival at Marlay Park |  <i>Mélodie Théberge</i>

Words by Mélodie Théberge who travelled on The Wicklow Way - 7 Days. You can experience the trail in a shorter highlights tour through a patchwork of landscapes between County Dublin to Glendalough, on a week-long walk near Dublin on the Emerald Isle's oldest waymarked hiking trail or hike the full trail over 9 days.

Ireland, Wicklow Way, Irish countryside, hiking trails, long distance, September travel

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